I have lived alone in Tokyo since I was 10 years old. My older brother left home for college, my older sister went to Boston, and my mother lived in Osaka.
Takumi Bando (45), with his low-pitched voice familiar from hosting the “Bachelor Bachelorette” series, said matter-of-factly, “It’s just the way things are at home.
I had my living expenses paid by bank transfer, but I lived in a new residential area and there were no ATMs near my house. We had to ride our bicycles over mountains and through valleys to get to the bank, but even if we had our cash cards, they wouldn’t let our children withdraw their money. If an elementary school student did that, they would probably think he or she was a passive child (laughs). (laugh) Once a month or so, my parents would come home on a whim and give me some cash, or I would manage to get some coins out of the piggy bank we had at home. But elementary school was still good because we had school lunches, but when you go up to junior high school, you have to eat lunch at a convenience store the day before, right? I had no choice but to buy a bento at a convenience store the day before and bring it with me. I worked part-time jobs, such as delivering newspapers, with the help of acquaintances. I used to fall ill during gym class because of hunger.
The father of one of my friends took care of me. He entered the Nihon University College of Art because his friend’s father gave him exposure to the arts, including theater and film.
He fed me once in a while and acted as a surrogate parent. I called him ‘oyasan,’ Kip’s way of saying ‘father. But after I entered NICHIGEI, Oyasan asked me, ‘What are you going to study at a university to do art? You’re going to live your life on the rails! He said to me, “What are you going to do in college if you are going to do art? Those words really stuck with me. …… It was true that I couldn’t find anything to study at university, so I left for the U.S. right after graduation.
When he was in college, he saw the play “The Fantasticks” off-Broadway and was overwhelmed by the energy of the play . I was so overwhelmed by the energy of the play “The Fantasticks” when I was in college that ” after seeing it, I just let myself go,” he said.
I came to the U.S. under the guise of studying abroad, but after six months had passed, I found myself completely absorbed in the Japanese community in New York. I was asking myself, ‘What the hell am I doing here? I went to see a dance performance by a woman I was dating at the time. I was so shocked that I dropped the glass I was holding. I was so shocked that I dropped my glass. I couldn’t stand still, so I left my apartment and went on a trip.
His girlfriend, who was supposed to go with him, returned to Japan on the day of his departure, but Bando left regardless. He bought a used Chevrolet and drove 160,000 km in a year and a half. He made three round trips on Route 66, which crosses the continent.
He slept in his car six days a week and stayed in motels the other day. One time, while staying in my car in the wilderness, I was surrounded by countless glowing red coyote eyes. As I was breathing in a cold sweat, a man came up to me and said, ‘Follow me. He was a Native American living in a trailer house. The next morning, after treating me to breakfast, he said, ‘Let’s go,’ and took me hunting and mining. …… I spent less than six months with him from there. From him I learned for the first time how to make things from scratch using things found in nature.
After I left him, my journey continued. In the northern part of the U.S., bears come out before hibernation in the fall. One day, I saw a bear in the distance, and when I went over a hill to get a closer look, I saw it up close. I was five meters away. If it hadn’t been for the rangers who heard the alarm and rushed to the scene, I would have died. The ranger told me, “Keep eye contact with the bear and move back! I managed to escape while almost falling off my back.
A “reunion” at the scene of a suicide
The end of the trip came suddenly.
When we stopped in San Francisco, I called from a motel to the home of my girlfriend, who had returned to Japan on the day we left. I called from the motel and was told that she had passed away. She was sick. I realized that she knew this, so she had returned home without saying anything, so as not to disturb my trip. Despair swept over me, and I spent a week on a motel bed, not eating or drinking. After a suspicious housekeeper took care of me, I looked down at the phone booth where I had called my girlfriend’s parents’ house and saw a sign on the bulletin board right next to it that read, ‘Drama School Students Wanted. I impulsively contacted them, saying, ‘If you don’t do something, I’ll be screwed. If the sign on the bulletin board had read, ‘Photography School Wanted,’ I think I would have gone on to become a photographer.
He became so absorbed in the theater that he was told, ” Your plays hurt. He pushed himself, saying, “If I keep my heart burning for something like this, maybe she will live on in me,” and graduated from the most difficult class at the drama school with the top grades. Within two years, he had landed the role of Captain Yada, the superior officer of Kazunari Ninomiya (39), in the Hollywood blockbuster “Letters from Iwo Jima” at the age of 28.
I saw a running light in the final suicide scene. When he shot himself in the head and collapsed to his knees, I heard the thread of life snapping in my heart. I felt the souls of the soldiers of that time on the set. I could even see the image of my deceased lover.”
Perhaps the price of pushing himself to the limit was a speech impediment. After becoming a Hollywood actor, Bando received offers to appear in a number of films, but he was unable to say his own name when he introduced himself. He could not speak a word. What saved Bando, who returned to Japan with a broken heart, was art. His leather goods, made with techniques inherited from Native Americans, caught the eye of a gallery owner, and he began his career as an artist.
The owner asked me to make the same thing for him, and we exchanged business cards. On the back of my card is a prose piece by American thinker and architect Buckminster Fuller, and the owner saw it and said, ‘Isn’t this Buckminster Fuller? The owner saw it and said, ‘Isn’t that Buckminster Fuller? I was convinced that this encounter was no coincidence, so I brought my work to him and he ordered me to join the store as an artist.
(Laughs.) I had no plan at all to “create this,” but when I returned home, I suddenly saw the stones and leather I had brought back from the United States. Without designing, I just put the stones on the leather as my body moved. I was sobbing as I continued to paste the stones, remembering various things and the trauma that had happened to me. I worked almost without sleep for a month and a half and lost 15 kg. When I saw the finished work, I thought to myself, “This is not my creation. Something made me create it. I realized that my speech impediment had been cured. I think something in my psyche had adjusted.
At his suggestion, he opened a private exhibition, and Kazuko Kurosawa, a costume artist who has also worked on the costumes for a major TV drama, came to see him. She offered to create 10 costumes for Yukihiko Tsutsumi’s “Sanada Juyushi. The costumes were nominated for the Costume Art Award at the Asian Film Awards. Recently, she also worked on costumes for the historical drama “Saigodon.
In my life, I haven’t really started anything on my own. With the Bachelor series, I never thought, ‘I’m going to make a name for myself with this show,’ or ‘I’m going to take a chance on this. I even thought that the format of the Bachelor show might not be a good fit for Japan. I just happened to fit in with the conditions that were set when I was approached. And since we do a lot of overseas filming, it would be better if I could speak English.
But now he is an indispensable part of the show.
I never imagined I would be on The Bachelor for this long. I never imagined I would be on The Bachelor for this long. I was written about a lot on the Internet. Then, in season 2, I was like, “I’m getting hooked,” and in season 3, I was like, “I knew it had to be him! (laughs). I appreciate the many compliments, but I think it’s healthy to have both sides of the argument.
Recently, Season 4 bachelor Huang Kou and Akikura Ryoko entered into marriage. Mr. Huang and I have shared two trips together, Bachelorette Japan and Bachelor Japan, and as he went through some truly grueling experiences, including heartbreaking moments and shaky feelings, he handed over the final Rose to someone who would stand firmly behind him. We are happy that it turned out this way. In watching the romance surrounding Bachelor/Bachelorette for six seasons, I have seen a change in myself. I went from living my life thinking only about myself to somehow becoming a person who could support other people’s lives. I began to think that the happiness of others is my happiness. This is also linked to the “Aura Art” that I have been drawing for the past few years. Aura Art is a painting that I draw just as I feel it, without any artifice. I paint in a session style, but when I touch the pure heart, I feel it and the person in front of me who touches my heart through me is also purified.
Bando is the only professional on set. He says that it is “my role” to communicate with the actors and ease their tension.
I only appear at certain points, so I am often asked, ‘What do you do when you are not on screen? I am often asked, ‘What do you do when you are not on screen? But while it may seem like I have a lot of free time, in reality I don’t have any at all. I have to stay on top of what the participants are up to so that I can be flexible and move according to what happens on the date. I also do some trouble-shooting without people knowing. Because you never know when your turn will come up, you can’t even sleep peacefully in the early stages. It’s like being on the battlefield. I have never been in a limousine or a helicopter. I hardly have time to drink! (laughs)
I often get compliments on my posture, but in fact, I can’t even sit down because my costume suit is fully custom-made and adjusted to the millimeter. If I gain weight, even a little, it becomes too tight, so it’s hard to keep my weight under control. It’s also tough to wear a suit to the beach in the middle of summer or to the snowy mountains (laughs).
However, through the Bachelor series, more and more people have become fans and are paying attention to the existence of the artist Bando Kou. We are sometimes asked by major companies to host award ceremonies and other ceremonies. Thanks to this, I only had two days off last year. This year, too, I have a big job lined up, such as the dedication of a painting and the Bando Kogyo Exhibition! and other big jobs are lined up for this year as well.
It seems that his life’s many oddities have given depth to his personality and his works, and have attracted many people to his work.
Season 2 of “The Bachelorette Japan” is now available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video.
PHOTO： Hiroyuki Komatsu